Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the rooftops.” Luke 12v1-3
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6v1-6
Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer. Isaiah 26v20-21
Have you noticed all the hidden things that are being brought out into the open this year? There is one public exposé after another – from the News of the World phone tapping saga to Jimmy Saville’s paedophile ring, from big banking scandals to the cover up by police during the Hillsborough enquiry. How could corruption be so deeply ingrained and widespread in public life? And why is it all being revealed now in such a steady stream?
At the other end of the spectrum of course is the outrageous invasion of privacy practised by the paparazzi, as exemplified in the publication of certain photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing. They will do anything to sell papers – supposedly some people wanted to see such pictures. My husband suggested we should all have behaved as the population of Coventry did when Lady Godiva rode past naked to persuade her husband to remit the heavy taxes he was imposing on them – ie look away now!
Some things belong in the public domain and others do not; some secrets need to be exposed to the light, revealed for what they are, their perpetrators forced to give account, while more intimate and private matters should have a veil drawn over them and be hidden from view, covered and kept safe. I suppose there is bound to be some disagreement about which things are in the public interest to know, but the vast majority surely recognise that ogling a young woman’s breasts without permission just because she is married to the heir to the throne is not one of them.
Jesus had some strong ideas about which things were to be exposed and which activities hidden, as we see in the gospel quotes above. It is not permitted to show off our good deeds – our giving, our praying – not if we want our reward from God. The Lord wants us to do these things for His eyes only: He’s looking for humble hearts not those who want a reputation and the approval of men. However, Jesus does want evil motives, lies and insincerity revealed: He says these things will be shouted from the housetops – or maybe in our society, plastered across all the newspaper headlines and on prime time TV! “Read all about it!”
There is something in human nature that hates injustice and wants it punished: all too often that can lead to bitterness and hatred, witch-hunts and taking matters into our own hands, but it surely springs from a desire for righteousness to prevail. “Be sure your sin will find you out” is from the book of Numbers in the Bible, when Moses is warning some of the people that if they don’t keep their promise to help their brothers they will get into trouble with the Lord! God is the final judge of the secrets of people’s hearts – that is what the Last Judgement is all about! As Paul says, ‘Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God’ 1 Corinthians 4v5.
Meanwhile our system of law and the courts are doing the best they can to keep society running on fair and legal lines – and a lot of dark things are coming to the light. A friend of mine is just seeking to break another banking scandal, where mortgage foreclosure cases have been using robo-signing on their legal letters – a completely illegal way of doing things which has already been punished in the US. If you are interested the webpage and explanatory video are here: hopefully it will soon be headline news like these other cases of fraudulent and immoral behaviour.
Funny isn’t it – the dark, hidden secrets, the occult things (‘occult’ actually means secret, hidden and covered over) are to be brought into the light and our good deeds are to remain secret! Our sins are to be brought into the light – otherwise they cannot be forgiven; once out in the open they can be seen for what they are – we can be seen for what we really are. This is the place of grace and forgiveness if we freely and humbly admit our failings to God – it’s hypocrisy, pride and deception He can’t stand. God already knows our hearts anyway – it’s no news to Him! He just wants us to admit it! As John writes in His beautiful letter:
‘This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. 1 John 1v5-10
When I write this blog I also have to decide which things are private and which can be revealed. For a while I thought I wasn’t being fully honest if I didn’t blog about absolutely everything, but then I realised it’s not appropriate to say everything to everyone – there are different platforms. When I started writing, over 2 years ago I was pouring out a tale of anguish as a mother watching her son suffering – it was no holds barred. Sam is doing much better now – for the time being at least – and he is in so many ways responsible for his own story. I still have my story to tell here, but it ebbs and flows and goes into all sorts of different areas – it eddys into whirlpools, round and round in circles, it goes far under the river bank, into underground places – sometimes I have trouble following it myself! I can write about Bible teaching, mothering, or ideas that interest me like the next woman – but I want to stay true to something that flows ‘out of the heart’ – my heart as a wife, mother and friend of Jesus living in England in 2012. You wouldn’t expect anything less!
Yes, Jesus did say, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open’ Mark 4v21-22: He always exposes what hides in darkness and brings it into the light to be seen for what it is. But at the same time He is the Rock and the safe place: He always covers the exposed and vulnerable and hides them under the shadow of His wing.
So stick with me as I discern which things need to be exposed and which kept quiet – and with that in mind I’ll be away from here for the next couple of weeks so I can have a break and concentrate on other things, but I’ll definitely meet you back here in early November.
With love and thanks to all who read and share the journey x